- Posted August 10, 2011 by
Las Vegas, Nevada
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Rioting in London
London Rioting Escalating - Youth Unemployment Rates Only the Tip of the Iceberg
Who are the young people rioting on London streets? Are they the disadvantaged youth without decent jobs and without financial means, alienated from society and living at its margins, frustrated and angry by lack of opportunities? Why did so many young people join the gangs of thugs torching London and its neighborhoods? Are they just kids with too much time on their hands engaging in dangerous behavior and criminal activities? Why is rioting spreading to other cities? No matter how many causes experts will come up with, either political or economic, the fact remains that youth had entered our economic crisis in a vulnerable position, without adequate skills and without work experience. According to the UN, some 81 million young people were unemployed in 2009.
International Labor Organization (ILO) says that youth accounts for 25% of the working-age population worldwide, yet their share in global unemployment totals 40%. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of unemployed youth grew by 8.5 million, the largest year-on-year increase in the last ten years.
Are youth unemployment rates only the tip of the iceberg? It seems so. UN says that young people are working longer hours, often under insecure work conditions, with reduced social protection and with lower earnings. They are encountering difficulties in finding as well as maintaining decent jobs.
According to UNESCO's fact sheet, youth represent 18% of the population worldwide, or close to 1.2 billion people, with 87% of youth living in the developing countries. The Youth Employment Network (YEN), the partnership of the UN, ILO and World Bank, with its strategy for employment and social inclusion of youth has put youth employment on the agenda of many countries with almost every government today having implemented specific programs to address the issue. However, these programs are often narrow in scope with the priorities attached to them frequently influenced by the business cycle. In addition, too much significance is placed on labor market entrants and too little on the poor working conditions.
The economic costs of youth unemployment can be high for the governments because of the resource and public finance costs. UN says that well-targeted programs are providing high social returns in addition to being rewarding in terms of individual employment as well as income.
In the United Kingdom, the economic cost of the youth unemployment is estimated at £ 4.7 billion per year as stated in the Prince's Trust study and according to the Department for Children, Schools and Families, each unemployed young person not in school or training is costing the public some £ 97,000 over their lifetime. In October 2009, the United Kingdom introduced "Flexible New Deal" program that is providing career advice, training and job search as well as subsidized employment and voluntary work to young people between ages of 18 and 24 who are claiming unemployment, ILO is reporting.
The London riots have left us stunned. We grew accustomed this year to pictures of the Arab spring, of young people mobilizing for revolutionary causes, for democracy, for hope. Tunisia first, then Egypt, and quickly most of the Arab world was engulfed in democratic quest. Youth elsewhere, in Italy, Spain, Japan also followed. They all were asking for change, positive change. Why have events in the United Kingdom gone in different direction? Why is Arab youth clinging to hope, while British are throwing it away? Can governments in this age of youth movements still afford not tackling the issue of youth unemployment? It seems not. Not any more.
UN, ILO, UNESCO